The theme of this year’s Mother’s High Tea was Tea Along the Silk Road. I assembled and helped hang collapsible red paper lantern shells on either side of the central plaque in the main room, unloading boxes and arranging chairs and tables with a team of volunteers while event founder Susan Squibb got her notes and projections in order and other helpers brought things up from the basement and set up the adjacent tea room. Community sentiment is the heart of this annual tribute enabled by the synergy of multiple different companies, all representatives united in appreciation of the social, cultural and economic opportunities afforded by prohibition’s end.
Events like this were designed specifically to normalize the use of cannabis, widely used among people from before historic memory, but long stigmatized in the U.S. mainstream due to various social, economic and political factors, until its recent legalization. It’s this undeserved bad reputation Squibb has sought to counter throughout her more than 20 years as a committed activist, from the days of developing Hemp Ice Cream through canvassing neighborhoods all over Denver and Boulder, waving signs on street corners to raise awareness and encourage voter turnout, to this annual event designed to normalize cannabis use by presenting it as a pastime no less mannered than taking a spot of tea in the afternoon while wearing an elegant gown or derby hat, as the case may be. Squibb is dedicated to her chosen cause, as witnessed by her having contracted such an inspirational lineup of speakers this year and all five years previously. “As a result of my cannabis advocacy,” says she, “I have a lot of pride in democracy. I feel so American.”
Lisamarie Martinez (L) and Susan Squibb at the tea ceremony.
She took the stage as emcee and delivered a rousing introduction* to the event for the audience of hemp industry insiders and advocates. Everyone clapped. This year’s co-mistress of ceremonies was hemp industry insider, Samantha Walsh. Her company, Tetra Public Affairs, devotes its efforts to advancing their clients’ interests through the government relations and the law-making process, in effect driving the conversations that create hemp policy, and the two alternated names of supporters in grateful acknowledgement to more audience applause before announcing state representative Leslie Herod, Colorado’s first African-American LGBT candidate elected to that office. As she spoke, listing accomplishments in enforcement policy and outlining common sense legislation in process, Having felt unrecognized so long as to consider myself apolitical mostly, I felt encouraged to share the same positions as a state representative.
Next at the mic was retired Judge Shelli Hayes, who served as a Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois for 18 years. While on the bench, Judge Hayes acquired courtroom legal experience in business, taxation, marketing and management. Her last assignment was presiding over a high volume Civil Jury Trial Courtroom. Judge Hayes received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York and her Juris Doctorate Degree from Indiana University Maurer School of Law, Bloomington, Indiana. She is a wife and mother of two teenage girls.
Cindy Sovine closed the roster with a confident exposition of her own latest vision. A small business owner since 2006, Cindy has over 18 years of experience helping highly regulated businesses succeed in ever changing legislative and regulatory environments. In her next journey, Utopia All Natural Spa & Lounge blends Cindy’s passion for helping people with her business acumen to bring to life a social use environment where Cannabis consumers’ desire for natural products and healthy living services becomes a lifestyle.
Ci Ci Dunn (L) and Susan Squibb at the after-party.
Bowtied waitstaff in dinner vests circulated with chefs-d’oeuvre’s on trays. Guests milled, dressed in formal attire, as ornate porcelain teacups and inspiring personal testimonies rang in the air. No expenses were spared for hospitality. Said author Bethany Moore: “It was my second time attending a Mother’s High Tea event, and the size of the event has at least doubled since then. Organizer Susan Squibb is doing a true service to the cannabis movement, especially the women who have helped bring us to where we are now. As I looked around the room, I saw dedicated, passionate pioneers of the plant. And we were all there for the same purpose: to honor ourselves, each other, and the planet herself.”
At the event’s close, all guests received a gift bag filled with lovely items from participating sponsors, among them lotions by Amelia, a packet of Sunflower seeds from Miller Soils, and a lighter from Willie (Nelson)’s Reserve. Volunteers (Dawn Blackman, Ci Ci Dunn, Tyler Jay Williams, Frank, Diane Fȫrnbacher, myself and others) were generously recognized at the kava bar afterparty. Some volunteers didn’t attend this portion of the festivities (Rodney A. Dean, Lisamarie Martinez, others) but were toasted in absentia. Besides being rooted in community, honor, and love, Mother’s High Tea is unique among cannabis related events for its personal touch of artistry and style. Will you be there next year?
(*link above is from Sensi Magazine)The cat faced aftermath.
Zack Kopp is a freelance writer and editor in Denver. He is the author of six novels so far, a short story collection, a book of poetry, a collection of metamorphic prose and a collection of articles, essays, interviews, reviews and commentary. Kopp has also worked as a ghost writer and editor. His latest book, Market Man, was just published by Boston's Big Table Publishing.
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